Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thanks for God’s Mighty Power

[To the chief Musician on Neg'inoth, A Psalm or Song of Asaph]

1 In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel.

2 In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion.

3 There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle. Selah.

4 Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey.

5 The stouthearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep: and none of the men of might have found their hands.

6 At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep.

7 Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?

8 Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still,

9 When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah.

10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.

11 Vow, and pay unto the LORD your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared.

12 He shall cut off the spirit of princes: he is terrible to the kings of the earth.

—Psalm 76 KJV Bible

This psalm is a hymn of thanksgiving. It records the voice of the people, the victory of God, and the vows of the people.

This psalm is thought to be from the time when King Sennacherib of Assyria attacked Jerusalem in 701 BC, during the reign of Judah's King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:13-19:37; Isaiah 36-37). Like Psalm 75, this song is thought to be part of the victory celebration which followed the defeat of the Assyrians.

The psalm description says it is to be performed on " Neg'inoth." This Hebrew expression is interpreted as "stringed instruments." this direction is used in Psalm 4, 6, 54, 55, 61, 67, and 76.

The psalm description says that it is a song of Asaph. Asaph was an outstanding musician who lived in the time of King David (Nehemiah 12:46). Asaph's father was Berechiah (1 Chronicles 6:39). David had appointed Asaph as a minister of music for the tabernacle (1 Chronicles 15:16-19) and Asaph's descendants were also official temple musicians (Ezra 2:41). Asaph was sometimes described as a "seer," or a prophet (2 Chronicles 29:30). Psalms 50 and 73 through 83 are attributed to Asaph, or perhaps written for Asaph to perform. The beautiful psalms of Asaph describe the world round us in a clear way, remind us that God cares for us, cause us to learn from events, and remind us of the greatness of God. Since the Asaph of David's time was long dead when the armies of Assyria attacked Jerusalem, the psalm may have been written by or for Asaph's descendants in his honor, or it may have been written by or for a contemporary who was also named Asaph.

The Hebrew "selah" is used in verses 3 and 9 of the psalm. The word is thought to be a musical notation to the choir director and musicians. It loosely translates as a break in the song or an instruction to pause and reflect, perhaps with a musical interlude. Some translators suggest the phrase "stop and listen." Others say that a more concise translation would be "let those with eyes see and with ears hear." The word "selah" has been compared to the word "amen" in that it stresses to the listener the importance of the preceding passage. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

In verses 1 through 3, the psalmist records the voice of the people acknowledging God's victory. Here the psalmist uses the terms "Salem" and "Zion," both of which refer to Jerusalem.

In verses 4 through 10, the psalmist records the victory of God. When God arose to judge the unrighteous, He stripped and slew the mighty.

In verses 11 and 12, the psalmist records the vows of the people. They will give sacrifices of vows in return for God’s favor upon the people. Among the world leaders, God will cut off those with a spirit of pride.

Father, Your power is awesome. I am humbled by your greatness. I praise You now, as all peoples will one day.


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